What’s happening?

In the pack:

  • Nicola Upson on designing your plot
  • Okechukwu Nzelu on the plot of his debut
  • Inua Ellams on plot and style
  • Balancing plot, theme and character
This month we explore plot:
We invite Inua Ellams, one of our UEA New Forms Award judges, to write about Plot. Inua’s essay takes a performative angle, thinking about the rich and ancient history of oral storytelling and what it can teach us about telling stories. Okechukwu Nzelu, whose debut The Private Lives of Nnenna Maloney was shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize, joins us via video to reveal the process behind plotting his novel. Award-winning crime writer Nicola Upson talks plot design on the podcast, and our National Centre colleague Simon shares a piece on fiction hierarchies; balancing theme and character against that all-important plot.
Want more on plot? You can’t go wrong with further reading from these giants:
“Story is honorable and trustworthy; plot is shifty, and best kept under house arrest.”
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
“Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”
― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing
“…in lieu of a plot you may find that you have a sort of temporary destination…”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
Until next time.
Laura Stimson,

National Centre for Writing,
July 2020
Laura Stimson has worked with National Centre for Writing since 2007. She has managed the Escalator Literature and Common People mentoring schemes amongst others. She is currently managing the Early Career Awards. Laura has appeared on BBC Radio 4 and has recorded vocals for poet Luke Wright. She won the 2015 Word & Women Prize and is represented by Blake Friedmann Agency.

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